It’s lovely to be here again to salute the memory of Oscar Wilde.
Besides my almost lifelong admiration for his work, I do have a personal connection of sorts. In the early 1880s my great-grandfather, Alec Shand, was, for a while, secretly engaged to Constance Lloyd. Sadly she didn’t marry him – and went on to marry Oscar Wilde four years later.
Oscar was drawn to intellectually-gifted,independent-minded women – like Constance, and like his own mother, Lady Wilde. Famously, he said the three women he most admired were Sarah Bernhardt, Lillie Langtry, and Queen Victoria.
Oscar liked strong women and created quite a few in his plays – including, of course, the infamous Lady Bracknell, a character so interesting that now men want to play her – as if they didn’t have enough good parts of their own!
What is wonderful about Oscar is that his plays, his poetry, and his personality have all stood the test of time. As we reach his 165th birthday we continue to be moved by his work and by his own story, and by the essence of his philosophy. As he put it in De Profundis: “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?”
Ladies and gentlemen, I now ask you to raise your glasses, and drink to the memory of the author, playwright and poet, Oscar Wilde.